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Recent gains in oil prices have got people feeling a little more positive about the commodity that really hit the skids between mid-May and mid-June. However, we are starting to see the sellers come back bringing us into the realms of a potential bearish reversal for this market.
June saw Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) pump the largest amount of oil this year, despite their production cuts. This saw the cartel raise output by 260,000 barrels a day compared with May. Around 50% of this can be attributed to the rise in output from the likes of Libya and Nigeria that are outside of the recent production deal. Meanwhile, if you look at the US, we continue to see the rig count rise, which is a proxy for expected output from the nation. Only once we begin to see rigs fall, we will begin to expect a decline in output, and even then it will see a multi-month lag delay.
On the supply side, we have entered the crucial month of July which is a peak driving season in the US, thus typically leading to a sharp drawdown in stockpiles. The trend over recent months has been towards drawdowns in US stockpiles, with ten of the past 12 weeks posting a reduction in stocks. However, with those two rises coming in the past four weeks, there is a reason to believe that the demand is drying up somewhat as we move into July. Certainly it seems the US demand picture is doing pretty well, but keep an eye on the crucial inventories releases in the coming weeks, for this is the peak time for a strong drawdown. If it does not come, then there will be significant pressure on the price of crude.
Elsewhere, there has been a slowdown in demand from key markets such as India and China, which obviously does little to help boost the price of oil.
Looking at the Brent chart, the wider picture is overwhelmingly bearish. The weekly timeframe highlights the gradual move back into the critical $44.11 support level. A break below there would likely pave the way for a significant period of weakness.